Members in Latin America and the Caribbean gathered for the annual Youth Entrepreneurship Summit

Written by Andrea Dalla Palma – Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Specialist at Youth Business International (YBI)

In November, set against the beautiful backdrop of Guadalajara, Mexico, seven YBI members from across Latin America and the Caribbean gathered to exchange their experiences and expertise around the main themes of digital acceleration, sustainability, access to finance and impact measurement.

This annual gathering took place in the frame of YBI’s third Youth Entrepreneurship Summit for its regional Latin America and the Caribbean Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP). Developed in partnership with the IDB Lab, this five-year programme aims to give entrepreneurship training to 65,000 young people, support 28,000 youth to start or grow their businesses and generate over 20,000 jobs across 10 countries in the LAC region.

Participants at this year’s summit included representatives from YBI members Acción Emprendedora (Chile), Aliança Empreendedora (Brazil), Jamaica Youth Business TrustBarbados Youth Business TrustFundación Paraguaya (Paraguay), Manq’a (Bolivia) and Yo Quiero Yo Puedo (Mexico). The event also welcomed representatives from our YEP partners and supporters: IDB LabAccenture, and La Casa de Carlota.

The event included a jam-packed agenda featuring facilitated workshops, a marketplace for young entrepreneurs and plenty of time for networking and relationship building.

Some of the activities held throughout the week addressed relevant thematic areas of interest for members of the YEP programme. These included:

Digital acceleration

This was the third and final workshop facilitated by Accenture for the YEP members as part of the YEP Digital Accelerator Programme. The focus of this workshop was on defining adoption strategies and the use of digital tools at three levels: offering services to the entrepreneurs; supporting the entrepreneur in the use of digital tools (e.g. digital markets) and supporting organisations in the management of digital data.

Sustainability, income generation and financing

This workshop related to understanding the needs of the YEP members with the aim of developing tailored training on sustainability. Attendees explored specific strategies around income generation, as well as fundraising to scale work with the specific target populations of women and rural youth.

Access to finance

Attendees were presented some of the key challenges related to access to finance following intermediate evaluations and revision of practical tools that help young people with financial planning and with analysing the financial options available to them.

One of the most inspiring moments of the event was a session facilitated by two employees of La Casa de Carlota, a graphic design company based in Medellín (Colombia) and Barcelona (Spain). The company’s aim is to only employ people suffering from Down’s syndrome, autism and other special needs. The session encouraged participants to explore a more inclusive approach in youth entrepreneurship support.

Young entrepreneurs in the spotlight

Throughout the four days, it wasn’t just the organisations and partners taking up the stage. Entrepreneurs who have been supported by host organisation, Yo Quiero Yo Puedo, organised a lively and vibrant entrepreneurship fair in Casa del Emprendedor. This fair provided the perfect opportunity for the young entrepreneurs not only to showcase their products, but also to tell their stories and share their ideas, dreams and inspirations. Although diverse in respect to where they are in their entrepreneurial journey, many of these young people have received or are receiving support from Yo Quiero Yo Puedo with entrepreneurship skills, mentoring and access to finance.

Initiatives like this help to strengthen the ecosystem of support allowing leading experts, partners, governments to share knowledge and expertise of best practices in the field of youth entrepreneurship. Across Latin America and the Caribbean, these young people are critical to future economic development and key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Our work with IDB Lab enables locally-rooted organisations to empower underserved youth to realise their entrepreneurial potential, creating jobs and strengthening communities.

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